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Readers' Questions > The true cost of piracy from ebook-community...pt 3

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message 1: by Brenna (new)

Brenna Lyons (BrennaLyons) | 93 comments Mod
Of course, someone always has to get into the mix and try to push the buttons, after a post like this, so let me recap my answers to said pirate.

*Nook and Kindle's sharing is very limited and I don't like that and...well, she went on and on, including incorrect information about Nook and Kindle.

Well, that's wrong, according to the articles I've read on Nook. Yes, it's limited to two weeks at a time and you lose use of it while it's being read by someone else, because it's mimicking...gasp...a paper book. Wow. Who would have thought of that? Yes, I'm being sarcastic. But the deal I've seen is that it can be lent 6 times. Kindle goes one further and allows (some reports say as few as 6 and some as many as 10) unrelated Kindle and iPhone units to be linked together to share books.

And, I completely disagree that it's that simple to cut down piracy, but that's based on how many of the type I'm forced to deal with on a regular basis.

*Well, how about a paper book? Studies show they are read by an average of 6 people. I don't see you e-book people supporting that, aside from Baen.

How about a physical book? There can only be ONE copy of it (unless it's pirated), which means only one person can use it at a time, and only a complete idiot would claim that photocopying a full book and handing out copies is legal, unless the book is public domain. But that's what people do with e-books.

A lot of people passing books along hand to hand don't even know what files are ON their computers. They don't realize that, when e-mailing a book, you have the one on the hard drive, the one in the sent file, the one in the temp files, the one your ISP keeps stored for a short period of time, the same set on the other side (save it being in the inbox instead of sent file)...and that's before you start counting things like backups of the hard drive, copies on CD saves or zip saves, copies on other equipment. If they don't even know they are there, tell me how they are deleting them correctly? They probably aren't.

Not to mention the people who don't know better. Friend A passes them a book and does it right, but Friend B doesn't know how to delete it correctly and starts the ball rolling. Everyone from B through ZZZZZ thinks it MUST be all right to just pass books along, because X gave it to me, and X is a nice person and would never do anything wrong. Can you tell I've HAD this discussion before? As I said, a lot of people don't know what they are doing wrong, and that sort responds well to education.

If you haven't heard people saying they are comfortable with 6 people reading a book on single purchase, you aren't listening. I support the e-book library systems. I don't have a problem with a friend or two sharing. That is peanuts. That is not the person hurting me. I'd never claim it is and have written articles about why that person isn't hurting me overmuch.

To boot, many indie authors give free reads. We understand full well the concept of getting readers in with a free read. In fact, you are talking to one of the authors that took part in Fictionwise's first ever week-long Baen experiment.

On that note, please stop misrepresenting what Baen does. I've read Flint's articles and the reports on sales. The Baen program works BECAUSE their aim is to offer the first book or two free in a series to spur the sales of all the books in print or the other books in e.

Back to reads. In the Fictionwise week-long, the average book gave away 1577 copies. Mine gave away 3008. In a week. The sales of the other books more than doubled, and web site traffic went through the roof. Since then, I've done two similar weekend promotions with ARe.

But those numbers are largely meaningless. Why? Because if someone is able to pirate the whole series and is actively pirating, they won't buy anything. They will just continue taking, because that's what they do. There's no excuse for it. It's not like they can claim I give no free samples to make a decision based on. It's entitlement, pure and simple. I've heard every conceivable excuse out there...or maybe not. Maybe some pirate will shock me someday with something new, but that's doubtful.

*The numbers you give of pirated copies are meaningless, because they have nothing to do with lost sales. [snip a bunch repitition:]

You do love double talk and trying to argue something I've already stated myself, don't you? I already said that what they represent are sales that will never be not a correlation of X pirated books to Y lost sales.

As for losing your e-books... Any e-book reader worth his/her salt knows how to backup, break DRM to do it if you have to (which I personally support, BTW), and purchase books that can be used on more than one machine. The last time I heard of someone losing all their e-books (without the person doing something monumentally stupid) was almost 8 years ago.

*OUR studies show that pirates care deeply about authors and tech and the industry and... [snip a bunch of rationalization:]

Care about how to use the tech to pirate, more likely.

Look, you are attributing a lot to the pirates that does NOT match up with what I see in sales trends and on pirate sites. You have this rosy view of pirates as somehow altruistic. They aren't, overall. There may be a few that are...and a lot that buy the bunk about how piracy helps authors by introducing new readers, but the fact is, unless they are sharing a book with a single friend...or a few friends, that's not happening. There is no good for me in pirates that load a book to be downloaded thousands of times or resell my copyrighted works. You can make all the excuses you want to, but that's what it boils down to.

If you want to help an author, pass along links to his/her free reads (or even the free read itself) WITH information that you have permission to pass the free read. Use word of mouth...review it on your blog, rate it on Amazon or Fictionwise...tell people you liked it. It's not that difficult to see the difference between incidental sharing in a CONTROLLED manner vs. wholesale piracy, between passing free reads vs. piracy, or in word of mouth (which causes no depriving of income) vs. piracy.

*Amazon and NY publishers are fighting over $10 or $15 e-books. $5 e-books aren't even on the table. Convince them to change pricing, and people won't pirate.

BULL! Sorry, but there are two problems with this line of thought. One is that any indie author will tell you that both Amazon and NY conglomerates are bassackwards on the whole subject of e-books. The other is that $5 e-books are not only on the table, they have existed in indie for over a decade. But, people are so hungry for reasons to pirate, I find myself fighting this sort of sweeping statement all over the web.

Beyond the need to tell NY they are screwed up, why bother with what NY says? It may take them another decade to get off their backsides and do it right...or more. Or they may never do it right, despite Carina's foray into the indie model, complete with no DRM, an author percentage at the low end of indie norm, and a well-known ex-indie Senior Editor to get it right.

*If I can only get an old OOP or orphaned work (if I can get it at all) in a UBS, the author isn't making money on it anyway.

There is ONE problem with it, but I would largely agree (and already said it) that OOP works, especially orphaned ones, are probably the best thing to pirate, if someone is going to pirate. Of course, if I could get it for $2 at a USB, I wouldn't be so quick to pirate it, because it is available, but either way, the author gets no money from the sale. Back to the subject... The single problem is that the author may well be in the process of rereleasing said book, and readers wouldn't know that. In fact, if the author is unfamiliar with S/S/V, the rampant piracy of the title may prevent the author from getting a contract for the rerelease.

*The survey showing how many people are pirating just means it's socially acceptable to pirate now, and publishers can either deal with it or lose out. Nothing will stop it anyway. [snip rant about evil publishers:]

That's wrong, but you're fond of this misstatement. Baen is not nearly the only people giving free content to spur the sales of other books.

Beyond that, we accept that a certain amount of piracy will go on, and it will never be stopped. I'm not tilting at windmills over here. That doesn't mean we don't send take-down notices and VeRO complaints. We'd be idiots not to. When we see it, we address it. We educate those who are willing to be educated. We lobby. We appeal. We take pollings and surveys and start petitions. STOPPING piracy is not on the table. Slowing it is.

*Give me $3 e-books, and I will buy them for convenience. (NOTE that she's asking for $3 e-books, which the polling so far has shown is FAR below the amount the average reader says they want to pay for e-books. She's in the minority already.)

And yet, I continuously see pirates heisting books that cost as little as 49 cents. Shaking head. You attribute qualities to pirates as if they are universal or nearly so. I admit there may be a few out there that use common sense and a modicum of ethics. Why you cannot admit that there are many more that don't is beyond me. Perhaps you use common sense and a modicum of ethics. If you do, I thank you for it, but that doesn't mean the rampant others do not exist.

*People reselling your e-books IS illegal and should be squashed. That's the reason copyright exists...to keep the unscrupulous from selling the books illegally and really depriving authors of income.

It is also out there to make sure that there is not unlicensed reproduction (even if there aren't sales) of the entire work, because that deprives an author of income, but I notice you don't want to protect that. There are limits of how much can be reproduced without permission for a reason.

An author can CHOOSE to allow reproduction and even distribution via a creative commons or open source or shareware situations (I do it personally, with my free reads) and still retain some rights, like not reselling. What annoys me, even beyond someone selling my books that are for sale elsewhere is someone selling the free reads I offer with a creative commons not-for-commercial-use tag. Why? If I offer something for free, there is nothing altruistic in cheating other readers by making them pay for something I gifted them. That is the author mama me getting hacked off. Don't cheat my readers, or you face me at my worst.


message 2: by Brenna (new)

Brenna Lyons (BrennaLyons) | 93 comments Mod
And part two of her rant and my answer... It doesn't let me make posts this long. Grinning...

*The public can't affect changes to copyright law, because they are left out of discussions about it, at the highest levels.

And I already said I do not agree with Millennium. But, yes...you CAN have a say. Lobby. Make petitions to lawmakers, stating your case. It's a defeatist attitude to just say, "I can't sit in on the meetings." Guess what, the lawmakers you elected can and do have a say in things, and they can't even attempt (not that I think all listen, by far) to change laws in the direction we need without input.

There were FCC hearings, and lobbyists were there...and they went to some of the author advocates to get information on common sense law-making. For instance, Rowena Cherry was represented by a lobbyist at the FCC hearings.

Believe me, if what the readers were asking for made SENSE...like exclusions for access to personally-purchased e-books, authors are on the same page...well, maybe not Author Guild authors, but many other authors, like myself.

*Amazon and big publishers are trying to say e-books should be priced at hard bound prices or trade paperback prices. But the public is smart enough to know they shouldn't pay more for an e-book than they do for mass market, and that's $5.

Mass market paperbacks are not under $5, unless they are category length. I bought two of them today. I know what I pay for a mass market novel. And I know my e-books of a similar length and genre cost less than they do by at least $1-3, across the boards.

And as I said, ignore Amazon. The best thing anyone involved can do is point to blogs and sites for indie press that prove the pricing system works. Or...fill out the pollings. If I could get 2000 respondents, I might get some attention for it. Right now, I've got almost 500, I believe.

*If you see piracy as depriving an author of income, then buying books at a UBS or yard sale is depriving... (I hate this comparison and always have.)

Again, that's a cop-out and not comparable. Why? Because a paper book can only have one reader at a time, and it eventually falls apart. Don't tell me about 100-year-old hard bound books. I've got some approaching that, but the newer books have planned obsolescence and few stand to repeated readings past about 5 or 6 years...the keeper shelf ones that are read a few times a year, I mean. e-Books do not fall apart. With conversions and backward compatibility and the ease of copying, you suddenly have multiple copies that last just about forever. Libraries for all books and USB for paper books are not depriving authors of income. It's part of the industry that is akin to rentals of videos and such. Piracy falls between slippage and wholesale industrial espionage, depending on the scope.

*1) Plenty of Baen's customers buy print as well as ebook.
2) Plenty of *friends* of ebook pirates, buy print versions based on their friends' recommendations.
3) I've bought ebooks I already had because I forgot where they were on my hard drive--and they were cheap enough that I didn't care.

First of all, Baen has nothing to do with this. We are discussing pirated copies that are later purchased, so let's write that one off, from the get-go. People who get a free read from Baen are not pirating it. Baen allows pass alongs of free reads, though I did get permission and was told by them which ones I could include on EPIC's CDs.

I highly doubt the second one, since pirates are busy just giving them copies of the pirated book. Again, why would they bother to buy it, when someone is giving it to them for free? The pirates that give a fig about the authors are in the minority, in my experience. It's all about their wants, their entitlement, their... You get the idea. Remember, I don't consider people that share a single copy with a buddy pirates, per se.

The final one is a different subject. Who hasn't rebought a book he/she forgot was already on the shelf, virtual or otherwise? For that matter, I have purchased an e-book then purchased the print book JUST to get it signed by an author at a convention. But that e-book version wasn't pirated, was it? Could someone pirate a copy and forget it was there and buy one? Sure. Is it the norm? Probably not.

*[Snip a rant where she repeats for the third time that a pirated copy does not equal a lost sale and that she thinks I'm an idiot, because I don't believe most pirates read book one pirated and rush off to purchase the rest of the series. Since I can see entire series being pirated, guess why that fails the logic test. She further states that she needs free reads to find new authors, but we're being mean and saying she can't ask for them.:]

Again, you hear only what you want to hear. I didn't say they were all lost sales. In fact, I said several times they weren't, but you just have to try and put words in my mouth that aren't there.

If you care to actually READ what I said, you would see that I was stating that I know most of the people that pirate the books aren't buying the books, because I know what I could do with even a fraction of the money I see bleeding away in piracy. If they were buying even 1% of what I see pirated, I would have that money in my budget, and it's not there. Ergo... I know the larger portion isn't buying the next book.

Why? Because I'd be seeing the sales from it. Since I'm not seeing those sales, that means they aren't buying them, at least not in any numbers that correlate to the amount of piracy I see happening. I've taken down more of my books from certain sites than NY Times bestsellers have. If there was any correlation between X pirated copies equals Y purchases, I'd be swimming in money that isn't there.

Even comparing my own pirated (that I can see) to my sales, there's no hint at all that piracy accounts for one red cent of what I bring in. I see sales hike at the normal times...new book out, sales at the site, promo push from me... Not the month of or after or even three after I take down a larger than usual amount of pirated books.

Why? Because the number of pirates actually buying the books after pirating are low...not high, as you seem to want to believe. Just because you say you buy them does not make the majority of pirates like you. That is a major fallacy in your logic stream.

Beyond that, I try a different tack with pirate sites than many authors do. When I take books DOWN, I put my free reads UP, with a notice of how it may be passed or not. In short, I will tell you where I draw the line then offer free reads to the pirates in return.

If the content is offered for free legitimately, I have no problem with someone handing you a "free read." If a friend does an incidental share with you, I already said I have no problem with it. It's mass piracy that is killing us. Not that sort of thing. No author in his/her right mind begrudges the single incidental reads.

Now you're talking in circles. You DO ask for the reads, apparently, because you just said you've gotten pirated books. And if it's a single incidental share, it's not only nearly impossible to control, but who wants to waste the time to control that?

In the meantime, your average indie author is going out of our way to accommodate you. I offer free reads. I participate in free giveaways of the first book in a series, from time to time. I have reviews and first chapters and all sorts of ways for you to test the waters. I even have a rating scale on my site to help readers find books to their comfort levels.

The only times I have had someone tell me they were upset with a purchase from me, it was clear the person did NOT read the information provided by me on the site or the publisher site. If someone purchases a short story and thinks it's a novel, he/she was not paying attention. If someone purchases something clearly marked as not having a HEA and gets upset, he/she is not paying attention.

In the meantime, sites like Amazon, Fictionwise, ARe, OmniLit, and Smashwords have free reads available every day. If you need ways to find authors, I HIGHLY suggest checking out their reads, since they are offered BY the authors and/or publishers to help you find things you might like to read.


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